The Upside-Down World of “Every Man’s Battle”

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Apparently I’m now a verified book reviewer, as these (bad) books keep coming to me in the mail, unannounced and unexpected. I guess the publishers get them out to everyone on a certain list and I’ve made the list. If only I made the list that receives the good books! But I still don’t want to get kicked off for writing negative (*honest*) reviews of every book they send. So.

Every Man’s Battle. Where do I begin?

I first read this book in middle school, and recall it being relatively unhelpful. The main premise was to guard your eyes and only let them take in good things. Not a bad move. But then the entire book was built around this.

Bounce your eyes, the authors implored from cover to cover.

And that was it.

Additionally, the authors felt it necessary to include detailed descriptions of porn they had seen or times they were caught gawking at a beautiful jogger in LA. Do they simply say they were checking out the jogger? Of course not! That would be too easy! They go into detail about the sweat on her golden flesh and the bikini she was wearing as well as the form and shape of her various body parts (p.4).

In a book on fighting sexual urges, they sure did a great job of putting those urges right back into you. It’s like a DJ’s mashup of 50 Shades of Grey and a nun slapping your wrist with a ruler. Like they were spanking you while telling you to stop crying, or telling you not to swear by playing Lil’ Wayne music.

Are you confused yet? Because I was.

I cracked open the 20th anniversary edition, hoping it would be a different experience than the original. Maybe they had learned a few things in the past 20 years, like the takeaways from Joshua Harris’s shame culture or the purity movement which left countless ex-vangelicals in its wake, outside the church walls and angry. But no — the main premise still seems to be Just learn to control yourself better!(ch.1–20) Bounce your eyes away from women!(ch.11) Live in constant fear of sliding down the slippery slope into an affair with your friend’s wife! (p.176)

For any true porn or sex addict, these plastic affectations will do little to heal wounds, motivate, change, or make any lasting adjustments to their lives. My knee-jerk reaction is, Well yes! I sure wish I could simply turn it off, control myself better, and STOP ACTING OUT. That would be nice!

Sadly the book opts to remain on the moralistic surface, as if making behavioral changes will heal your deep-seated trauma, insecurities, and otherwise wounded heart. In a very reductive thesis, the authors seem to equate men with brute savages who, if they could only pull their acts together, would be better husbands, warriors, and fathers. (Emphasis on warriors, since everyone reading this book will undoubtedly be picking up their spears and scimitars in the near future and taking out their enemy: THEIR OWN SOUL. Again: confusing.)

The condescending nature of the authors’ tone is also not helpful: We have made it…follow these steps and you can too! they seem to say throughout the book.

If you’re looking for real help in this area, I highly recommend Surfing for God by my friend Michael Cusick. Nothing is more insulting than reading a book on sex addiction written by people who have never or barely struggled with it (Aw, you looked at an attractive jogger once? Man, must be nice to only struggle a few times in your life). Cusick’s book instead addresses the deeper issues which lead to men acting out, treats men as humans rather than decision-making machines, and doesn’t demonize the intensity of desire. It also helps that he was an addict for many years and truly trainwrecked his life as a result; he speaks as someone bouncing back from rock bottom.

If you’re thinking of picking up Every Man’s Battle, hoping that perhaps this new edition has remedied the sins made in the previous edition, I’m sorry to inform you that no hope can be had. If, however, you want a moralistic finger-wagging blended with a few erotic descriptions of women’s figures, then this is the book for you!


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